Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Life before Death?

I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died. (Romans 7:9 )

What do you make of this verse? What do you think Paul is trying to say? I was reading this verse yesterday and it struck me - perhaps this has the answer to my question about the word "dead." I have asked about the word "dead" here on this blog. When the Bible says we are spiritually dead, I have oft wondered what was the "life" that preceded that "death." IOW, to be "dead," you had to "live" first. People are are not dead before they are conceived and born, they are just not alive yet. A corpse is dead because it was once a living body. So spiritually, if we are dead, somehow, there must have been a spiritual life that preceded that death - it seems to me - else why would the Lord chose to use the word dead rather than unborn? Do you see the question in all of that?

So .... maybe this verse holds the key to my dilemna with that word.

What do you think?


  • Hi Rose. This is an excellent topic. I think this verse is key for developing a better understanding of the curse of sin, the extent of Christ atonement and what we commonly refer to as the age of accountability as well. I won’t have very much time to take part in the discussion though I may not be able to sit on my hands completely. ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 6/04/2007 10:00 AM  

  • I think this verse and its context is saying; we don't know we are dead until the Law proves to us that we are dead. The Law's sole purpose is to prove that we have sin.

    I can say I am alive to God until His Law proves that I am dead because sin lives in me.

    I think I understand where you want to go with this, Rose. I think another question would be to those who insist that man is dead to anything spiritually is:

    How did Paul know he was dead if he was already dead?

    Most calvinist would say "their" doctrine of regeneration before belief is the answer. I would contend that re-birth happens after belief. John 3:16 18

    Pauls answer seems to be when he was honest with himself when he looked at the Law that said "do not covet", that commandment proved that sin was living in him and he could not keep from coveting. The more he tried to stop coveting according to the commandment the more he coveted. He, like the entire human race, couldn't look to the Law for righteousness, we have to look to Christ for that.

    Since Christ has propitiated the sins of the world(all the world, not just the elect) on the cross then the only sin that remains for eternal damnation is not believing(blasepheming) the Holy Spirit's convincing work that this is true. God's grace, in sending Christ, through our faith is the end of the Law for righteousness for those who believe.

    John 16:
    8"And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
    9concerning sin,because they do not believe in Me;

    Is that "reasonable"?

    By Blogger Kris, at 6/04/2007 11:50 AM  

  • Hello, KC. It is nice to see you come out of the shadows. :~)

    Honestly, I am not sure where i want to go with this. It was just a verse that I didn't remember having read before and it seemed to speak to that dilemna of mine somehow.

    Thanks for your visit!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/04/2007 12:16 PM  

  • Hey Rose,

    It's been a long time. I hope things are going well for you.

    Most commentators (Calvinist and non-calvinists) tend to interpret this passage as saying Paul only thought he was alive, but the law proved that he wasn't and had never been.

    Interesting thoughts though,


    By Blogger Doug E., at 6/04/2007 8:00 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    "Rom 7:9 - And I was once alive without the law - Without the close application of it. I had much life, wisdom, virtue, strength: SO I THOUGHT. But when the commandment - That is, the law, a part put for the whole; but this expression particularly intimates its compulsive force, which restrains, enjoins, urges, forbids, threatens. Came - In its spiritual meaning, to my heart, with the power of God. Sin revived, and I died - My inbred sin took fire, and all my virtue and strength died away; and I THEN SAW MYSELF to be dead in sin, and liable to death eternal." (John Wesley - Emphasis mine)

    I agree 100%

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 6/05/2007 2:21 PM  

  • Hi Rose! I have nothing to say.

    I think you should read this article for another FG view on 1 Corinthians 6:8-11. He covers six views on the passage.


    By Anonymous danny, at 6/05/2007 11:48 PM  

  • Hey Rose!

    I think if we look at this in light of Paul's overarching polemics in Romans against the Judaizers, the meaning comes a little clearer. Instead of an abstract discussion of the sinful nature that this passage is often pressed to address, I think Paul is really talking about the misuse of the Jewish Law, cultus of worship, and national identity for which he continually blasts those who opposed him.

    The Judaizers believed that through the law, their participation within the cultus of Jewish worship, and national/cultural identity, they had exclusive access to Yahweh. But Paul disagrees, accusing them of pressing these things to inappropriate ends, using them as tools of manipulation to establish and preserve the hegemony of religious thought through which they oppressed others (and themselves, ironically).

    To Paul, reconciliation with God comes not through programmatic actions nor with association with a particular cultural identity or participation within a specific cultus of worship. Rather, reconciliation is the mystery of the reunification of God and humanity's relationship, a relationship that had been severed through humanity's manipulation of their status in relationship to God. This is why Paul says that salvation is not through works--in saying this, he is not talking about "actions", per se, but is rather taking a shot at the smug arrogance of his detractors who believed that they could manipulate social, religious and cultural identity to achieve salvation.

    So perhaps in this verse, Paul is truncating the history of human enmity with God, showing how humanity's sinfulness is located precisely in its desire to manipulate its relationship with God towards its own prideful ends. Before the manipulation, humanity lived in peace and unity with God, but with the advent of the Law (which is the result of human manipulation and sinfulness), the relationship was severed, the inevitable death associated therewith following close behind on the heels of the laws necessitated to curb human sinfulness.

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 6/06/2007 12:55 AM  

  • Rose said:

    So spiritually, if we are dead, somehow, there must have been a spiritual life that preceded that death - it seems to me - else why would the Lord chose to use the word dead rather than unborn?

    The spiritual life before would've been in Adam prior to the Fall.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/06/2007 4:53 AM  

  • Exist~dissolve,
    Am I getting you right?

    you say:
    but with the advent of the Law (which is the result of human manipulation and sinfulness),

    Do you think man "invented" the law of Moses? Or are you just referring to the way the Scribes and the Pharisees perveted the administration of it?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/06/2007 11:16 AM  

  • Bobby,
    I am not so sure. It sounds very personal with Paul. It doesn't sound like he is referring to some corporate event, IMO. He says "I" was alive. Are you sure about your interp of that?

    It has been a long time! Did you know I had a baby in December? Yes, the Cole house has been changing. Paul only thought he was alive? I need to read it over again because I just didn't see that very clearly.

    So you would agree with the "most commentators" that Doug refers to?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/06/2007 11:21 AM  

  • Do you think man "invented" the law of Moses? Or are you just referring to the way the Scribes and the Pharisees perveted the administration of it?

    Yes, and no. The Law--as is clearly illustrated by Paul's discussion of it being the harbinger of this "death"--is clearly not the ideal relationship of humans to the divine. Rather, the Law is the result of humanity's enmity with God. Originally, humanity lived at peace with God and in fidelity of relationship. However, with the advent of sin, this relationship was shattered, and separation ensued. The primordial problem of sin, after all, is the desire of humanity to control and manipulate God. This desire, then, is encapsulated and engendered in the Law, for though it has the pretense of reconciliation, it inevitably becomes a tool in the hands of sinful humanity to pursue the original course laid out by humanity's sinfulness and enmity to God. In this way, the Law is clearly humanity-originated. The Law becomes what humans desire--and get--when they live at enmity toward God: a never-fulfilled means of access to God that will ever be manipulated towards the ends proscribed by human sinfulness, perpetuating the relational divide between creation and God.

    This, then, is why Paul speaks in such ferocious polemics against the Judaizers, for their claims to exclusivity of access to God are primally located within what Paul shows to be an entirely unhelpful and unsalvific entity--the Law. When he speaks of Christ "fulfilling" the Law, he is not speaking of Christ participating within the same cycles of human sinfulness and manipulation of the same, but rather of Christ's fundamental re-orienting of humanity in relationship to God, a relationship based upon reconciliation and faith, not the parameters of the Law.

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 6/06/2007 11:39 AM  

  • Rose,

    see Rom. 5:12ff

    By Anonymous bobby g., at 6/07/2007 2:54 PM  

  • Hi Bobby,
    I was aware of that verse. I see how you draw the conclusion that Paul was inplying that he was alive in Adam, but I am not connecting the dots so easily.
    I thought that maybe Paul was speaking of his life of innocence or something like that here in this verse.

    I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died. (Romans 7:9 )

    By "commandment" and "Law" I wonder what that would mean in reference to Adam? Are you sure he is talking about life in Adam in this verse?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/07/2007 3:35 PM  

  • Rose,

    I think contextually Adam should be kept in mind when interpreting chpt 7 since it is a continuation of his arguement. Paul was alive apart from the Law, just like prior to the Law, between Moses and Adam, there was sin. I don't think Paul would be saying that he was innocent, in fact just the opposite, all the Law served to do was magnify his sin (his being alive before the Law a la chpt 5)--and condemn irrepairably.

    Also given his life as a Jew he always had the Law, there would not have been a time in his physical life that was w/o the Mosaic Law--so he must be referring to something else when he is saying that he was alive before the Law came; and I think chpt 5 and the Adam discussion helps provide the context and insight that he is referring to in chpt 7.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/07/2007 4:55 PM  

  • Hey, what about the preceding verse?

    Romans 7:8 "For apart from the law sin was dead."

    Does this mean that sin was alive? As you can tell, I think your taking the illustration too far. I agree with your millennial view though :-)

    BTW, your following statement makes me uncomfortable:
    "Unborn babies are not dead, they are just not alive yet."

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at 6/08/2007 3:38 PM  

  • Rose ...

    Look at this the law when i was alive i didn't know what sin was so when i excepted Christ i found out that that i sin so i died the sin cause that.. if i keep on sinning as a christian and i realize that i'm then i'm dead,,, but if i know my sin though God help and Helps me look and try to conquer it then maybe i can be alive again ,but we will keep sinning as of being man/woman

    By Blogger senior pgadreamer 1, at 6/09/2007 9:17 AM  

  • Bobby,
    I am going to go over the whole book again soon to see if I can really get what you are getting. Thanks so much for your help!

    Interesting the way you put things. It is "unorthodox"?
    I hope you are having a fine weekend.

    I clearly see that babies in the womb are alive. I should have been more specific. I mean unborn as in "they aren't even a twinkle in their parents' eyes yet". That is what I meant by unborn, but I can see how that sounded all wrong!!! I am going to change it now.

    This quote is golden, just golden delicious!!! :

    I think your taking the illustration too far

    This is going to be an inspiration for a soon-to-come post or series of posts. God bless you for it, brother. ';^}

    I am glad that you agree with the millenial view of RR. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/09/2007 2:11 PM  

  • PGA,
    Thanks for your comment and congratulations on being a new grandfather!!! YAY!

    (BTW, why do you cal lyourself "senior" PGAdreamer now?)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/09/2007 2:12 PM  

  • Rose,

    Spiritual death is very key in understanding our lostness before salvation.

    We'll see what Kc does with it? Haha

    By Blogger pecheur, at 6/12/2007 2:13 PM  

  • Thanks for visiting Pechur!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/14/2007 2:36 PM  

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